Chaser – The World’s Smartest Dog

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“Chaser, this is Dan. Chaser! This is Dan,” said Deb Pilley, a classical musician who goes by the name Pilley Bianchi professionally and signs her emails as “Pill.” Pill is the daughter of John Pilley, a former professor of psychology, who owns Chaser, an average-sized border collie mostly the color of cookies-and-cream ice cream, but with a black patch just to the left of her left eye. Standing in the entryway of Pill’s apartment, Chaser looked up at me with round amber eyes. “Hi there,” I said, and stuck my hand out for Chaser to smell. She did, briefly, then glanced at Pill, then turned around and ran upstairs to Pill’s apartment. The introduction was not dissimilar from a lot of introductions I’ve had at parties, except this time, I was meeting a dog. Border collies are the only dogs I like. They seem more self-reliant than other breeds, equally demanding of human attention but less demanding of human affection. They very rarely bark. They don’t jump on strangers. They don’t slobber. They are work dogs, not lap dogs. Border collies are herders, bred hundreds of years ago to work with sheep around the Anglo-Scottish border. They’re highly energetic, but it’s focused; they are, unlike many dogs, workaholics. In the absence of herding tasks, many, including Chaser, decide that their “job” is to play fetch. They’re not lackadaisical about fetch, getting the ball when they feel like it and giving it back at their leisure: they are impatient and demand the ball be thrown. This isn’t playtime. It’s work, and its in their genes. They’ll do it for hours, every day, and if they’re not allowed to “work” enough, they get bored, and then they get destructive. Throughout the recording of my interview with John, you can hear the bouncing of Chaser’s favorite ball, because the interview took place during her workday.
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